Top Ten Spots for Spring Birding


In the brutish ignorance of youth, my notions of what to do in the big outdoors stuck to pursuits like bashing through moguls, trying to reenact the chase scenes from Return of the Jedi on mountain bikes, or at least running up and down the Green Mountains in my backyard as fast as possible. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd become one of those "birdwatcher" guys.

But that's exactly what's happened. Like millions of Americans—birding has doubled in popularity over the last decade—I spend the last days of winter poring over field guides and polishing optics, awaiting the arrival of the spring migrations to my neck of the woods. And when they do arrive, I'm frequently out in the parks at dawn, getting in an hour or two of quality time with wildlife before trundling off to work. What I've discovered is that studying birds and following them on their travels is the easiest way I know to connect with a rhythm much less frenetic and transitory than those that rattle and carom off me as I negotiate life in a large American city. Watching birds, like watching all wildlife, is about seeing the tides of evolution described in every movement and action—it took eons for them to evolve and adapt the bodies and behaviors we see on display in the present, and it will take eons more for these things to change. Long enough, I hope, for me, my children, and so on to keep taking note of birdlife's place in the march of the seasons, year after year.

With wood warblers, shorebirds, waders, tanagers, orioles, and many other birds in brilliant breeding plumage and on the move northward, spring is my favorite time of year to haul the binocs into the wilds. I've rounded up a small handful of the land's most storied spring birding locations—I hope my choices inspire argument, more suggestions, and above all, some trips into the woods, marshes, meadows, and all the other bird-friendly habitat around us.


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